Press release from WheelPower 30th January 2019

WheelPower, National Disability Sport Charity loses a Legend: Jean Stone MBE

It is with immense sadness that WheelPower learnt the news that our much loved Board Member, and legendary pioneering figure within the Paralympic Movement, Jean Stone MBE passed away in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, this week. 

Jean played an integral role in the initial development of the Paralympics. During her time working alongside internationally renowned Father of the Paralympics pioneer Sir Ludwig Guttmann, the impact Jean had on the world of Paralympic, wheelchair and disability sport here in the UK and around the world, was ground-breaking.

Jean worked for WheelPower for many years as Sports Administrator at Stoke Mandeville Stadium and following her retirement stayed involved as Chairman of the Sports Management Committee.  Jean worked closely with the staff at WheelPower and Stoke Mandeville Stadium and the countless officials and volunteers to introduce young and newly disabled people to sport.  It is fair to say that there are thousands of disabled people who have played or are playing sport thanks to Jean’s work.  It was her lifelong passion.

Jean was a founder member of the Scottish Paraplegic Association, the Scottish Sports Association for the Disabled (SSAD, now Scottish Disability Sport) and was instrumental in the development of Stoke Mandeville as a world renowned centre of excellence for international disability sport.

Jean was heavily involved with the Third Commonwealth Paraplegic Games in Edinburgh in 1970 and served the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) as a volunteer for decades, and was fittingly awarded the Paralympic Order in recognition of her incredible contribution to the Paralympic Movement.

Andrew Parsons, IPC President:

The Paralympic Movement has lost a great and exceptional friend. Jean was a pioneer, a well-loved figurehead who did so much for developing Paralympic sport and the Paralympic Movement. There is nothing Jean did not know about the Paralympic Movement and her work and dedication transformed the lives of so many, many people.

Following her attendance at the National Stoke Mandeville Games in the summer of 1962, Jean, with support from the founding father of disability sport, Sir Ludwig Guttmann, established a sports organisation in Scotland that was representative of all impairment groups. 

Jean was instrumental in the development of the National Stoke Mandeville Games with events in Edinburgh including in the 60’s a Scotland v England wheelchair basketball competition staged in front of the bandstand in Princes Street Gardens during the Edinburgh International Festival. 

Jean coordinated Scottish teams to compete annually in the National Stoke Mandeville Games and Scotland was always represented in significant numbers in the GB Team for the International Stoke Mandeville Games. By 1966 the Scottish Paraplegic Association was sending 20 members to the Stoke Mandeville Games by air.

Jean was one of the driving forces behind the establishment and development of disability sport in Scotland throughout her life and was always passionate about her beloved homeland. 

When Jean moved south to join WheelPower (The British Paraplegic Sports Society at the time) she helped establish many wheelchair sports and served on the Board of British Wheelchair Basketball and other sports helping to get them up and running and providing opportunities for people to enjoy the benefits of taking part in sport. 

Two major WheelPower events which Jean help establish, the National Junior Games and the Inter Spinal Unit Games continue to provide young disabled people and newly paralysed people with an introduction to sport.  Jean understood the power of sport to transform lives and the participants in the Juniors and Spinal Unit Games as well as their families will know how much these events provided to give them a positive outlook on life.

Jean’s knowledge and experience, born from her background in Occupational Therapy, meant that she was trusted by everyone and despite being a private person there will be people in every corner of the world who will mourn the passing of an exceptional person.

WheelPower’s Chief Executive, Martin McElhatton expresses his gratitude:

There has never been a more respected figure in disability sport and all of us at WheelPower who were influenced by and learned from Jean have much to thank her for. Jean was an exceptional lady and WheelPower recognised the importance of Jean’s work in the development of wheelchair sport at WheelPower and Stoke Mandeville by inducting Jean into the WheelPower Stoke Mandeville Hall of Fame in 2018.

I was a young wheelchair basketball player and Jean roped me into helping with some PR for WheelPower in 1988, she guided me and supported me throughout my thirty years at Stoke Mandeville and was an incredible force in my life.  Jean meant so much to so many whose lives she will have influenced in a positive way and her legacy will be that disabled people can play sport for fun, in competition at whatever level they choose because people like Jean made it possible.

Thank you Jean for everything you have done to transform lives through sport.

A Memorial Service to celebrate Jean’s incredible life and contribution to the Paralympic Movement and her work at WheelPower will be organised at Stoke Mandeville Stadium in Spring 2019 and details about the arrangements for this will be provided nearer the time.

For more information about this press release, please contact the WheelPower Press Office